The Canon S110 is the most refined little pocket camera Canon has ever made. The core design of the S110 remains unchanged from previous iterations. But with a little streamlining and some key new features, it's inched one step closer to perfection. Are you looking for the highest quality possible in a small point-and-shoot? Check out your new camera.
What Is It?
Like the S100 last year, the S110 is a tiny $450 camera with a 12.1-megapixel, 1/1.7-inch image sensor. The S110 trades in the S100's lame GPS for built-in Wi-Fi and a new touchscreen.
Who's it For?
Beginner photographers who want more control. Advanced photographers who want something that fits in a pocket and doesn't suck.
Like the S-series cameras before it, the S110 is a bit smaller than a deck of cards. This version has the sturdiest build yet. The camera's control layout remains basically unchanged.
For such a small camera, the Canon S110 sure offers a lot of control, and it just makes it easy to get the shot you want. The S-series always had a wonderful control ring around the lens, and combined with the click wheel and rear buttons, you can quickly adjust settings to make all kinds of changes. Touch autofocus and Wi-Fi transfers are useful, timesaving additions.
The Best Part
Big image quality in a little camera. Tiny, actually. It fits in your pocket. Not your parka pocket—your skinny jeans pocket.
Despite nice responsiveness, you can't do much with the touchscreen.
This Is Weird...
Old-school Canon fans will recall that this isn't, technically speaking, the first PowerShot S110. There was a 2-megapixel Canon Powershot ELPH S110 back in 2001. The current camera doesn't have much in common with that.
- We carried this camera in our pocket everywhere we went for a week.
- From a usability point of view, the fact that you can take the S110 everywhere sets it apart from its more fully-featured competitors. The Panasonic LX7, and the supposed S-series vanquisher, the fabulous Sony RX100, have comparable controls and slightly superior image quality. But this is the only completely pocketable box.
- As before, between the manual capabilities and built-in settings, it's almost always possible the get a great image. The S110's performance is just as fast as the S100's.
- We haven't yet found perfectly designed Wi-Fi camera (and we tested two good ones). Like those, the S110 easily uploads to social media and quickly transfers files between a camera and a phone/tablet/computer. Canon's Camera Window app makes sending photos to mobile devices easy. But the rest of the Wi-Fi functions are too much trouble.
- The camera's top ISO setting has been bumped one stop to 12,800. (Don't ever shoot that high, or your photos will come out horribly.) Like all S-series cameras, the S110's handheld night scene setting is a lifesaver. It uses processing and noise reduction to cobble together a usable shot without flash.
- The S100 does perform well at some high ISOs. Even in the trickiest conditions, ISO 1600 shots are very clean, and photos taken at ISO 3200 are relatively noise-free. Very impressive for a camera this size.
- It's pretty ridiculous that it can only shoot at a maximum shutter speed of one second.
- One way to make the most of the quick adjustments: Just walk around and shoot automatic until something doesn't look right, and then go and and make changes. This camera doesn't require you to be a camera whiz shooting full manual everywhere you go.
- One detail we miss from the S100 is the narrow strip of rubber that made the minuscule camera significantly easier to hang onto.
- As before, the camera's tiny size means a smaller battery. One charge with the 1200-mAh battery got us 135 photos, two minutes of video, and about 10 minutes of Wi-Fi.
- The camera's touchscreen is nice and responsive, but we wish you could control more of the camera's settings on the screen (the way you can with the Canon T4i).
- The camera shoots at 1920 x 1080 HD video, but you can't take full-manual control of it.
- What's the point of having touch autofocus if you can't use it in movie mode?
Should You Buy It?
Yes, with caveats. If you're buying into the S series, now, you may be considering the S100, which is about $30 cheaper. But the additions in the S110 are substantial enough that you should get the newer camera. As for upgrading—if you're coming from the S90, it's a yes. From the S95, maybe. It depends on how much the Digic 5 processor's improved noise-reduction and autofocus matter to you.
As far as its competitors—the LX7 and the RX100—the S110 beats them all on portability, but not necessarily on image quality. Look, if what you really want is the best images from a camera roughly this size, then the $650 Sony's RX100, released a few months ago, is the one to get. It set a new standard for image quality on point-and-shoots, and its 1-inch sensor blows away the 1/1.7 chip in the S110.
But for $200 less—and a profile that can slip into a slender pants pocket—the S110 packs in more quality per square inch of camera than any other point-and-shoot on the market today.
• Price: $450
• Sensor: 12.1-megapixel, 1/1.7-inch CMOS sensor.
• Lens: 5x optical zoom, f/2.0-5.9/8.0
• Max ISO: 12800
• Image: Up to 4000 x 3000 pixels
• Video: 1920 x 1080 at 24 fps
• Screen: 921,000 dot, 3-inch touch LCD
• Weight: 7 ounces
• Gizrank: 4